Philadelphia at Detroit - The Eagles suffered an almost inexplicable, demoralizing blowout loss against Tampa Bay, and now have to go to Detroit, a team that is playing much, much better. This is the part of the season that becomes a little like a minefield for team teetering on the edges of playoff relevance. Philly should win this game, so why do I get the feeling that this will be another landmine that blows up in their face, and gets them a little further away from the playoffs?
Carolina at Dallas - The good news for the Cowboys is that they finally won again, for the first time since September. The bad news is that they now have to take on the 10-0 Carolina Panthers. Well, at least they have home field advantage, but the Panthers are solid, with a tough defense and an offense that can, at times, be explosive. Dallas finally has Romo back, but I still think the Panthers should be too much for them this time around. Carolina wins.
Chicago at Green Bay - This one should be a clear cut game, although you never know. Still, the Packers, after a slide, recovered nicely against Minnesota last week when it mattered the most. Now, they should be back on track, and back at home, against a team that they have largely mastered in recent years, Green Bay should be celebrating a second big, divisional game victory in a row. Bears could prove tough, though, as they are better than their record indicates, and definitely dangerous.
Oakland at Tennessee - The Titans seem to have new life in them, while the Raiders are battling for their playoff lives, and coming off a disappointing loss at Detroit. Once again, the Raiders are on the road back east, although they have a Titans team that has been tough, but hardly wins with any degree of consistency. Oakland needs this one more than Tennessee, and they are the better team, so I will say that the Raiders find a way, and come out of this one with a win.
NY Giants at Washington - This is a huge game with enormous playoff implications, as Washington, a scrappy team that keeps on winning when it is not supposed to, hosts the division leading Giants. Washington is tough and can play opponents well, although the Giants, when they play up to their potential, can really be quite strong themselves. The Giants should be playing on a high, having showed a lot of capabilities in the near miss against New England, and then having a bye week to rest. So, perhaps I am voting this way because of my heart, but the Giants will defeat Washington on Sunday.
Minnesota at Atlanta - The Falcons went from a hugely impressive 5-0 start, to a team reeling, on the verge of a total collapse. That makes this game huge for them, since the Vikings looked surprisingly vulnerable this past weekend against Green Bay. If the Falcons can snap out of their offensive funk, and can successfully emulate what the Packers defense managed to do against Minnesota, than Atlanta has a real chance at winning this. However, they are on the downward spiral, and there is no proof yet that the Vikings admittedly bad loss to Green Bay will continue on into their next few games. So, I'll take the Vikings on the road against Atlanta.
San Diego at Jacksonville - The Chargers are one of the biggest disappointments of the season. Many had them pegged as a playoff team this year. Instead, they look like they are in serious contention for the status of worst football team in the league. The Jaguars, in the meantime, are playing fairly well, and have every motivation to win this game, being just one game out from first in the weak AFC South. I will take Jacksonville in this one.
Tampa Bay at Indianapolis - Who would have thought when the season began that this would be a huge game with playoff ramifications for both teams? For that matter, who would have believed that these two teams would have the same exact record at this point in the season? Not I, for sure. But the Colts have home field advantage, and have been playing better lately. That makes this an intriguing match. Although Tampa Bay has a chance at playing as well as they have recently, and taking the game, I believe the Colts should find a way to win.
Miami at NY Jets - The Dolphins just suffered a huge disappointment that may have pretty much been the death blow to their playoff hopes. The Jets are actively suffering a massive three -game losing streak that could signal the end of their own playoff hopes, especially if they do not stop the bleeding in this game against Miami. Home field advantage helps, and my heart tells me that the Jets should win. But my head tells me that the Dolphins have looked sharper lately, and will find a way to pull this one off.
Buffalo at Kansas City - The Bills almost pulled off a big game that would have stunned the NFL in Foxboro on Monday Night Football against the undefeated Patriots. Almost. But they went down in defeat in the end. Now, they go to Kansas City, which is always a tough place to play, to take on the red hot Chiefs, who have come all the way back from a miserable 1-5 start, to get back to even at 5-5. I believe that they should take this one, too, and should beat the Bills to get back to a winning record.
New Orleans at Houston - The Texans are hot, looking to continue their win streak, so that they can stay with the Colts for the AFC South, if not perhaps even take the lead. New Orleans, in the meantime, is a team in turmoil, with a defense that cannot stop anybody. Their playoff hopes are almost gone, and I just do not see them winning on the road against a hot Houston team.
St. Louis at Cincinnati - The Bengals followed in the footsteps of the Broncos and Packers by following an undefeated streak with a losing streak. Luckily, the St. Louis Rams are stepping up to the plate to assure that the Bengals have an excellent chance of breaking that. This should be a relatively routine win for Cincinnati. They need to take care of business here.
Arizona at San Francisco - The Cardinals own a comfortable three-game lead over the second place Seahawks, but they need to stay on top of that, and not suffer any letdowns. The 49ers are pretty much out of the running in the NFC West, and even the playoffs. Still, they have proven to be tough at home, although pulling off a win against first place Arizona would be a huge feat indeed. But my guess is that the Cardinals stay sharp and beat out the 49ers to stay well ahead in the NFC West. The Cardinals at this point would enjoy the second seed in the NFC playoffs, and I suspect that they are really determined to make this season something truly special. So they cannot afford to lose this one.
Pittsburgh at Seattle - This is an intriguing match! Two serious contenders, squaring off. The Steelers have a dangerous offense, while the Seahawks are still quite solid all around, despite having suffered through a disappointing season thus far. However, this game is crucial for them, since a loss would pretty much solidify that the disappointment would be the entire season, whereas a win would be their second in a row, and catapult them right back into serious relevancy in the NFC playoff picture. The Steelers are tough, but the Seahawks at home in Seattle are tougher. Look for the 12th man to help the Hawks through this one.
(SNF) New England at Denver - My guy tells me that this will be New England's first loss, although my head tells me that the crafty Patriots will somehow find a way in this one. Either way, it is almost too close to call, as it would not be all that surprising no matter who wins this contest. It should be another good one in one of the best rivalries that the sport has seen in years!
Baltimore at Cleveland - Argh! Who scheduled this MNF game? True, nobody could have predicted the Ravens fall from grace this season, but these two teams matching up on Monday Night Football makes this a really uninteresting match with little to spark anyone's interest. Neither team will be heading towards the playoffs, especially not with Flacco out for the remainder of this season. I will go ahead ad predict a Browns victory to give their fans something to cheer about this year.